Payback – Happy Father’s Day
by Margott Rifenbark
I had the chance to help my dad out of a tricky situation the other day. He had been doing it for me my whole life, so I welcomed the opportunity. While I had planned on seeing him, I wasn’t sure where the meeting would take place. As it turned out, it was in the lobby of a New York theatre, minutes before curtain. As I approached, my dad was talking to two women, one of whom had a walker. His face lit up when he saw me.
“Well, I’ll be damned! Am I ever glad to see you!”
The ladies moved away, and I sat down beside him. I started to say something, but he motioned that he needed to talk right away. “Listen. Do you have any money on you? I am in a heck of a fix. I’ve got ten prospective clients arriving for this show, and Nolte, the horse’s ass, hasn’t shown up with the ticket money.”
The Nolte he was referring to was my Godfather and Daddy’s best friend from prep school and Princeton.
“I didn’t mind this stuff in college, but this is going too far. What am I supposed to do? He’s leaving me holding the bag again. Damn him! He’s the fancy lawyer. I’m just a poor sales schmuck. These people will be here any minute, expecting to see this show!”
His agitation was intense, and I could tell he had exhausted all avenues of escape. For once, I had the answer.
“Relax! Everything is already paid for.” That stopped him cold. Relief and disbelief engulfed him with equal speed. “How is that possible?”“Everything here is paid in advance: tickets, drinks, food. You name it, it’s paid for. They won’t even accept money. Look around. Do you see anyone using cash?” He surveyed the room and looked back at me with a big smile. “Well, I’ll be damned! How did this happen?” “You did it, Daddy. You were real clever and handled things real well. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. Isn’t that great?”
He let that thought sink in, and, as it did, the lobby walls started to fade, and we were sitting in the green room of Woodbury Terrace. The two ladies seen earlier returned and again asked my father if he were ready to use the restroom. He said, “Yes,” and pulled himself up to the walker. As they led him towards the hall, he paused and turned to me.
Shyly, he asked, “Are we related?”
“Yes. I’m your daughter.”
He seemed pleased at the idea.